Doing things the MBA way

Essential business skills physicians need to know.

By Joe Capko | Feature Articles | Winter 2012

 

Ask a doctor why he or she decided on a career in medicine, and you might hear a mix of reasons: a yearning to help people; a keen interest in science; desire for a role that commands respect. Maybe some will even admit to wanting a potentially lucrative career that is also prestigious.

One thing you probably won’t hear, though, is a longing for a management role in a $3 trillion industry—even though that is another way to describe what being a physician means today in the U.S. health care system.

Lack of appreciation for medicine as a business—and reluctance to develop business skills—can hold new doctors back, making it harder for them to reach their primary goals of providing excellent patient care and achieving enduring career success and financial security.

“It’s a travesty that physicians do not receive a business education,” says Maria Young Chandler, M.D., MBA, associate clinical professor of pediatrics and management, University of California, Irvine and chief medical officer of The Children’s Clinic, a six-site nonprofit health center in Long Beach, Calif. “Medicine is a business. Without business skills, physicians could find themselves swimming upstream.”

After as much as 10 years of post-graduate education, though, getting an MBA may not be appealing or feasible for many young physicians. The good news is, any physician can become more conscious of the business aspects of the health care field. more »

 

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Back to school?!

What is motivating physicians to head back for more training and additional education?

By By Cindi Myers | Feature Articles | Winter 2011

 

Paul-Levy-MD

For Paul Levy, MD, pursuing an MBA helps him understand the business side of medicine—and prepares him to handle a changing professional landscape.

When Dr. Paul Levy became a heart surgeon, he thought that was enough. He’d worked hard, making it through medical school and internship and fellowships. During the next 25 years, he rose to the top of his profession as one of the senior members of the New Mexico Heart Institute, named the number-one cardiac surgeon in Albuquerque in 2010 by Albuquerque The Magazine.

But by 2009, the world of medicine was changing rapidly. What had always been enough for Levy wasn’t anymore. “I’ve been in a patient’s chest for 20 to 25 years,” Levy says. “That’s where I’ve had my head. I know I can do this job, but I realized one day it was time for me to expand my horizons. I really need to know more about what’s going on.”

Levy signed up for the University of Tennessee’s Physician Executive MBA program, or PEMBA. In doing so, he joined a growing number of physicians who’ve decided to pursue an advanced degree, like an MBA or JD, in addition to their medical diploma.

Why another degree?

The reasons physicians pursue additional degrees vary. Many, like Levy, pursue degrees as a response to the current medical climate. “You’ve got to be aware of what’s going on in health care to stay in business these days,” Levy says. “There are a lot of doctors who are frustrated. There are a lot of doctors moving toward business degrees. They’re concerned about their profession.”

Some want to expand their career options. Dr. Mike Ward, who is currently completing a two-year operations research fellowship and pursuing a master’s in quantitative analysis through the University of Cincinnati, received his M.D. and his MBA from Emory University.

“The MBA brings diversity and opportunity,” he says. “It lets individuals know what you’re interested in and capable of doing.” Ward, one of the founders of the National Association of MD/MBA Students, thinks an MBA on a physician CV opens doors for more leadership roles in clinical medicine, as well as administrative and academic positions. more »

 

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